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Kwibuka30: Arsenal joins Rwanda in commemoration

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Various players and former players of English Premier League side Arsenal have joined Rwanda on the 30th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi which claimed over a million of lives in the space of 100 days.

Defender Jurrien Timber, Arsenal Women duo Caitlin Foord and Katie McCabe and club legends Ray Parlour and sporting director Edu Gaspar shared their experiences during their visit to Rwanda on various occasions through the club’s current tourism partnership with “Visit Rwanda.”

In a video shared on the English club’s social media platforms, the quarted shared their impressions about the people of Rwanda during their visit and its incredible transformation over the past three decades of rebuild.

“I visited Rwanda and learnt about the history. The people in Rwanda are lovely, they welcome us with happy faces. Seeing the kids playing football and they were very happy that’s amazing,” said Timber said.

The Dutch international visited Rwanda in December 2023 and met with young players in Nyagatare and AS Kigali.

In his message, he urged Rwandans to continue to stick together to achieve their goals.

“On Kwibuka 30, my message to young footballers of Nyagatare and AS Kigali is that they should continue working hard, continue to stay together and I encourage them to chase their dreams,” he said.

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour visited Rwanda, said he had heard a lot about the tragedy that Rwanda went through 30 years ago and, when he visited Rwanda, he used his time to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial where over 250,000 Tutsi victims are laid to rest.

Touring inside the memorial, he recalled the experience as “Really hard to hold your emotions, I am happy I went to see what people went through it is an eye opener.”

For Edu going around the memorial centres sparked the feeling of pain inside him but again, he was left he excited to see Rwandans put the atrocities behind them and build in a common vision.

“I really enjoyed their energy. When I go around the memorial, I see the challenges people who are alive went through. I experienced that.”

Edu’s sentiments were echoed by Arsenal women’s club.

Katie McCabe who said,”It touches my heart and the girls heart to see where the country was and where it is now.”

The commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi is held every year and last 100 days from April 7 to July 4, symbolizing the period during which the genocide against the Tutsi took place.

According to Arsenal women striker Caitlin Foord, commemoration is not just remembering the victims who were killed during the Genocide but also educative as it keeps Rwandans on their toes.

“Today is the 30th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi. I find it educational and at the same time very sad to realize that this happened just 30 years ago.”

Arsenal is one of three European teams sponsored by Visit Rwanda. Others include French giants Paris Saint-Germain and Bundesliga side Bayern Munich.

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